A squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a type of skin cancer. There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) as is Basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer diagnosed. This type of cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis – the skin’s outermost layer.
What causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
The most important cause is too much exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or other sources such as tanning beds or heat lamps.
Too much sun exposure can result in changes or mutations to the DNA of skin cells (keratinocytes), as a result, this can cause the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) to change. Over time, these changes in the DNA allows the skin cells to grow out of control and develop into Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
This sun damage can cause SCC directly, or sometimes it can induce a scaly area called an actinic keratosis or Bowen’s disease, consequently, these can develop into SCC if they are not treated.
Other common risk factors include:
- Fair or pale skin
- Light-coloured hair and blue, green, or grey eyes
- Long-term exposure to UV radiation
- Living in sunny regions or at a high altitude
- History of multiple severe sunburns, especially if they occurred early in life
- Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic
Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinomas often present themselves as persistent, rough, thick, tender scaly patches or a non-healing, tender and bleeding ulcer. They have a similar appearance to warts and sometimes have open sores with a raised border and crusted surface over an elevated pebbly base.
The skin around it will typically show some signs of sun damage, which can include:
- Pigment changes (darkening of the skin)
- Loss of elasticity
In addition, you will need to see a doctor or dermatologist if there are any changes in a pre-existing skin growth. These changes can include an open sore that won’t heal or any new growths that appear.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spreading
On hearing the ‘C’ word, it’s natural to feel worried and scared. But keep in mind that when caught early, Squamous Cell Carcinoma can be successfully treated. The vast majority of SCCs are low-risk skin cancers and treatment is often successful. A small number can recur locally and/or spread (metastasise) to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Once this occurs, the condition is more difficult to treat and can be life-threatening.
Some people have a greater risk of developing more serious forms of SCC. These include:
- People with a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions, such as leukaemia, AIDS and HIV
- People taking transplant rejection prevention medications
Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma
If you have found a mole that you’re concerned about, or if the appearance of the mole has changed, it’s important to see your doctor. Your GP or dermatologist will examine your skin and any moles for any signs of skin cancer.
Our expert Dermatologists use dermatoscopes – handheld illuminated magnifiers. This highlights any specific signs of melanoma which may not be apparent to the untrained eyes. At Everything Skin Clinic, we are able to diagnose and treat skin cancer all under one roof. This is especially important for people who don’t want referrals to different places or want it removing as soon as possible. We offer fast-track appointments to ensure immediate diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers.
Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma
As with any cancer, you will need early treatment in order to prevent it from spreading. If they’re left to grow, they can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly. All Surgical treatments result in scarring, but the advantage of having surgical treatment in the hands of a fellowship trained dermatological surgeon is that they will give you the best cosmetic outcome.
Other risks with surgery include bleeding, infection, numbness of treated area and recurrence of the tumour.
There are various treatments available to remove the skin cancer. The aim of treatment is to get rid of the cancer completely. The treatment options available are:
Excision of cancer
Cutting away the cancer or ‘excision’ is the most commonly employed method for SCC. Here, the dermatologist will remove the cancer cells, as well as a thin layer of healthy skin in the surrounding area. Stitches are then used to close the wound. The tissue removed is then sent to a laboratory to see if any cancer cells remain and to get an accurate classification of the SCC. This will determine if you require further treatment.
Mohs micrographic surgery is the most effective treatment method for treating high-risk squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas. It’s performed in stages, where your doctor removes a layer of skin from the treatment area and sends it straight to the lab while the patient waits. Your doctor or dermatologist will repeat this until all there are no cancer cells remaining. This technique allows the removal of all cancerous cells for the highest cure rate. While sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar. Another advantage is that this treatment is all done within one day and will not take multiple appointments.
If you would like to speak to us, fill in the enquiry form and we will be in touch, or call us on 0161 509 1294.
Why choose Everything Skin Clinic?
At Everything Skin Clinic™, we have a team of highly trained Consultant dermatologists, who have completed specialist training in Dermatology and are on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. All our consultants hold substantive contracts with the best Dermatology centres in leading NHS hospitals. Therefore, you can be certain of the highest quality private care.
We offer a range of treatments and can offer one, or a combination of treatments to achieve the best results. Unlike many other clinics, we can offer diagnosis and treatment all under one roof by expert consultant dermatologist, so you know you’ll be in safe hands.